Parents and SMHA at odds

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The feeling behind the scenes of the Sault Major Hockey Association has been uneasy over the past two months or more.

What started off as a letter from parents of players to the SMHA has ballooned into a fiery state with both sides upset and choosing what to comment on wisely.

The parents have asked simply for an answer to their question about player safety, cost and who should be held accountable.

A letter dated January 12th asked for a meeting to discuss these issues and the SMHA did meet with the parents on February 1st, however, SMHA president Matt Cavailere was absent for reasons unknown.

The 50 or more parents that attended the meeting discussed at length their concerns with the above issues in the SMHA. It came to an impasse. That’s when a second petition letter, signed by over 75 parents, was sent to Cavaliere dated February 16th. No response was delivered and that’s when the parents wrote to SaultOnline in an attempt to help get some answers.

“We’ll do what we can,” said Cavaliere over the phone March 8th. When prodded for an answer to provide for the parents he said, “Sault Major Hockey Association is currently working on a policy paper to address the letter from parents and a meeting will be scheduled in the near future.” When asked for some form of timeline, he said the parents should hear something in two weeks time. “We aim to provide the best hockey at the cheapest rate to the parents.”

With regards to the price, it ranges from $6,600 to $7,600 per player depending on which team they play for estimated a parent at Tuesday night’s 2004 Jr. Greyhounds practice. Cavaliere put the estimate at $7,300.

As far as the price being too high or reasonable, that is for another story. The following are the concerns raised in the February 16th letter that should be the current focus according to the parents of the players:

1. Parents should be permitted to stay with their children in hotel rooms when travelling, addressing players’ safety and cut costs.

2. Families should be invited to ride on the team bus at no extra cost (currently $100 per parent).

3. The programs should be run at a zero-profit financial model where any extra money at the end of the season should be returned to the parents.

4. Families should be provided with mid-season and end-of season financial statements for each team detailing full revenue and expenditure.

5. The SMHA should allow for a volunteer, family-led food committee which should cut costs and provide healthy meals.

SaultOnline will continue to follow this story with hopes that both the parents and the SMHA can address these concerns, establish more transparency and return this sport to what it is meant to be. Enjoyment and benefit to the youth and everyone involved.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Holy crap $15,000 each year and no guarantees of making it? Who has that kind of money to throw away? Think we will stick to house league.

  2. This has been a long standing issue for parents of the 3 Sault Major AAA rep teams for years and bringing them to public light is long overdue. There is zero accountability within the Sault Major AAA program. $7300.00 -$7500.00 are the team fees up front, add $625.00 for Sault Major registration fees, which takes you to $$8000.00. Food costs are usually $200.00 per weekend X 13 weekends away is another $2500.00, which puts us at $10500.00. Now the added parent cost to travel and watch their kids play….rooms, fuel, food which can range from $2500 to $5000 easily. The establishment at Sault Major might argue “parents do not have to travel and incur those costs” , however what happens when little Johnny gets hurt with a fracture or concussion on the road and has to be hospitalized as a result, or worse yet in the USA where it is very important to ensure you have an extended health care coverage plan or good luck. Who will have little Johnnys interest at heart. The end of year costs then easily balloon to anywhere from $12500 to $15000. This money is after tax hard earned savings, that many have had to remortgage their homes for, in order to play for 3 years. This is also the highest priced AAA program in the province. What do aspiring players get for this money? What they dont get is an off ice conditioning program that all other AAA programs in the province offer. Little Johnny dies get 2 practice sessions a week, which basically is the same as house league. The largest portion of the $100000.00 plus budget goes towards chartered buses, roughly $55,000.00. These buses transport the kids and staff to tournaments and league games. Some teams might allow parents to ride the bus for $100.00 per seat. Seems odd that they have to pay for the bus twice over on a $130000.00 budget?? Other teams forbid parents to travel on the bus and would rather have 30 empty seats than have parents who have paid for the bus fill those seats. Financial statements are not required which is really odd considering this is a not for profit organization and therefore transparency should be first and foremost.
    This program is completely broken and Sault Major executives are only to blame for giving zero financial accountability to these teams.

    “We aim to provide to provide the best hockey at the cheapest rate” is laughable.

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